To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether (a) his Department and (b) his Department's non-departmental public bodies provide (i) tax-free benefits and (ii) other allowances for their staff to purchase bicycles under the Cycle to Work scheme; and if he will make a statement.
The Department for Work and Pensions is currently sourcing a supplier to offer a cycle to work scheme to its employees. This scheme will support employees in taking greener journeys, by enabling the Department to loan a cycle to an employee, for up to 18 months and is expected to be available by September 2008.
The Department also offers an advance of salary to encourage green commuting. This allows employees to take an advance of their salary of up to £1,000 for the purchase of a cycle or an amount to cover the full cost of an annual public transport season ticket. The amount has to be repaid over the following 12 months and is free of interest. The same tax rules apply to benefits in kind provided to employees of Government Departments as to any other employee.
The Independent Living Fund, which is a non-departmental public body sponsored by DWP, offers staff who wish to purchase a bicycle for the purpose of travelling to work the opportunity to request an advance of salary, which will be recovered in equal payments over a 12 month period.